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Archive for the ‘Hastings St’ Category

Back in 2005, our president-pho-life Bummiepho started a little club to go around trying the best resPHOrants in Vancouver. Over the next 10 years, she followed this PHOlosophy and visited over 95 restaurants, organized PHOlympics, had PHO-marathons, and even survived a website move (yes, it used to be on Xanga). And now, she’s pursuing her dream of a full-time PHOod PHOtographer in France, so we got the crew together for one last pho with Jo!
Green Papaya Salad

Green Papaya Salad

To commemorate her last pholicious meet, she picked Mr Red Cafe on Hastings near Nanaimo since it had authentic North Vietnamese cuisine and she missed out the last time we were there. Showing up with 14 people made it a bit tight, but the staff responded gallantly setting us up in the front of the restaurant next to their large array of green plants.
President-for-life getting to work.

President-pho-life getting to work.

While we waited for our PHOod, we quizzed our club members on club trivia. How much do YOU know about Pholicious?
1. What year did Pholicious start? 2005
2. Where was the first meeting (area, or restaurant name)? Pho 66 on Hastings @ Boundary
3. Highest rated place? In the 00’s it was a tie: Pho Hong/Bao Chao (9) in the 10’s: Pho Tam (8.5)
4. Lowest rated place? Gold Train Express (3) or Pho Express Ankor (4)
5. Farthest pho restaurant we reviewed (from Downtown Vancouver)? Pho Tam (33.4km)
6. What will Jo order today? Bun Bo Hue!
We also challenged everyone to take a PHOto of their pho “in the style of Jo” aka instagram-star. And here are some of the results!

evileyepho’s sriracha-J pho

Asymmetrical  mrsbeansprout

mrsbeansprout: square framed, like instagram

killerpho's mickeypho

killerpho’s mickeypho

beansproutpho:

beansproutpho: “messy pho”

Of course, since this was the last pholicious meetup for our prez for some time, we rated Mr Red Cafe one more time.

The pandan tea was quite nice, with a almost toasted-barley taste to it. While the amount of beef slices were less than other pho joints, the quality of the beef and the soup base made up for it. The garnishes were also noticeably different, which led to a less sweet/more acidic pho, but the clarity of flavour was notable. A fine place to send-off our PHOtastic president!

Here’s our review of the pho!

One Size: $8-$11.50
Beef: Few pieces, but the stewed beef in #15 was extra delicious.
Noodles: thicker noodles in the Bun Bo Hue, standard thin noodles in the pho dac biet. Soft, but not mushy.
Broth: Good depth, with a bit of a sour note in the pho dac biet, could have been hotter.
MSG: medium
Presentation:  2 out of 4

Overall:  7.5 out of 10

Click to add a blog post for Mr. Red Cafe on Zomato

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When we first heard about a new Hanoi-style pho restaurant, we thought: “big deal.” After all, we’ve had northern-style pho before, and usually we haven’t been as impressed (see Hanoi Pho or Lam Hoa Quan) with the ingredients or the execution (maybe it’s the Communism). But then when we heard that this new place was serving up a hearty selection of Hanoi-style sticky rice, Banh Mi, as well as pho, all of which were made from scratch by a husband and wife combo, we thought, “wow, this sounds like a big deal!” So off we went to check out the aptly-named Mr. Red Café.

Littlest PHOllower is now a Teenaged Ninja PHOllower!

Plus, a bonus Teenaged Mutant Ninja PHOllower!

Located on East Hastings Street one block west of Nanaimo, the exterior has the stereotypical window writing advertising the food offerings and the restaurant name on top – all in bright red of course. The interior is arranged café-style, which one member described as “semi-modern,” with tables arranged in a horseshoe shape around a protruding island, with (you guessed it) red accents throughout. With a plePHOra of (real) green plants and (fake) red flowers around, it gave it a very live jungle-y feeling.

Plants plants everywhere!

Plants plants everywhere!

Service was quite prompt and friendly when we first arrived around 11:30AM, giving us menus and Pandan Jasmine Tea (although we could really only taste the barley-esque notes) as soon as we arrived, but as the restaurant filled up, service slowed to a crawl, to the point where our group was quite hungry before we started getting our orders – and even then, only half of our table was served their PHOod while the rest waited about 10 mins before their orders arrived.

Stir Fried Beef Rolls

Stir Fried Beef Rolls

Despite the wait, we were pleasantly impressed with the quality of the pho. While the broth wasn’t quite as piping hot as we would prefer, it was nevertheless tasty with a strong beefy flavor, with lots of depth and a spice/herbal mixture that gave it an extra mysterious quality. The Bun Bo Hue broth also had a very light red color (surprising) compared to other Bun Bo Hues, but the flavor (and spice level) was just right, allowing the broth’s beefiness to come through without being overpowered.

Bun Bo Hue

Bun Bo Hue

While there was a good variety of meats in both the Pho Bo Dac Biet and the Bun Bo Hue, there were very few of each, and beef tendons were strangely missing from the ingredient list. The portion size of the noodles was also smaller than average, which was unfortunate as they were just the right amount of done-ness without being overly soft.

Pho Bo Dac Biet

Pho Bo Dac Biet

While the presentation of pho isn’t typically well-done in most pho joints, you could tell that there was some effort here in arranging the meat so that it was more than the usual haphazard pile of meats. Even the sides came in a neat basket with giant soup spoons. But, as it seems to be a theme, the variety and portion sizes provided of the sides was also on the smaller side, especially seeing as how it was meant for three orders.

Baskets!

Baskets!

While they did have higher than average prices, and smaller than average portions, the quality of the pho did stand out and it was clear that they took great care in their preparation. If only they could improve the speed of their service, it would be, ahem, RED-iculously good.

Here’s our review of the pho!

One Size: $8-$11.50
Beef: Good variety, but few pieces of each.
Noodles: al dente, with thicker noodles in the Bun Bo Hue
Broth: Strong beefy flavor
Presentation:  3 out of 4

Overall:  7.5 out of 10

Mr. Red Cafe on Urbanspoon

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We’re back pho-lks! This week we decided to try Thai Hang on Hastings in the Granview-Woodland area of Vancouver. In fact, our Pho-president was so excited about this pholicious meeting that she showed up a week early! But despite the confusion over the meeting date (ahem, that she herself set, ahem), we assembled together at the correct time and date and got down to the serious business of eating pho.

The interior of Thai Hang is fairly large, with a double-unit storefront on the north side of Hastings. Situated between a newly-opened Malaysian-ey Chinese restaurant and a TV repair shop, the interior was clean, well-lit and somewhat tropical with pictures of palm trees out front and a tiki bar(?)-style cashier area. Service was accommodating (even when we needed to add seats for additional members), although having most of the restaurant empty on a rainy morning likely helped. Having all of the utensils and sauces already on the table also made it easier to get all of our personal pho-eating equipment.

With that said, the pho arrived quickly with all of the usual sides of beansprouts, lime wedges, and cilantro leaves. Overall we found the noodles to be a tad overcooked, with not much springiness or “bite” to them. Sadly the broth was also under-seasoned and lacked depth, which was unfortunately exacerbated by being on the lukewarm side by the time we received it. The beef quality and quantity was average, but the variety was notably lacking in the house special which came with minimal beef balls and no tendon/tripe, which led us to wonder if we simply received rare beef phos in lieu. Presentation was serviceable, but not notable.

Pho comes in either Small ($6.50) or Large ($7.50), although if you also order a spring roll/cold drink/dessert, you might as well get the large since combo pricing ($9) essentially makes it the same price.

It’s also notable that they offered us complimentary dessert.

Sadly we were so out of pho-practice that we forgot to take pho-tos! Pho shame!!

Here’s our review of the pho!

Small: $6.50 Large: $7.50 Combo: $9
Beef: average, but lacking variety
Noodles: tad overcooked
Broth: lacked depth and seasoning
Presentation: 2 out of 4

Overall: 5 out of 10

Thai Hang Vietnamese Restaurant 輝記牛肉粉 on Urbanspoon
 

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Our little club has been growing, and not just waist sizes. One of our members (the littlest PHOllower) has actually grown up noticeably!

We're all not-so-little anymore..

We’re all not-so-little anymore..

This week we got the whole crew out to Thai’s Saigon Bistro on Hastings in the Burnaby Heights area. Converted from a old greasy spoon burger joint, this place has been renovated and spruced up, and is now clean and modern-looking, with comfortable seating, flat-screen TVs, with photos  which are actually pho-related (and in Ikea frames!).

Clean and sparkly!

Clean and sparkly!

On to the pho! The pho came with a light and well-balanced broth, with a fair portion of beef, fresh beef balls, and al dente noodles. Overall the portion was between fair-large, and the presentation was about average.

Phoooooooooo

Phoooooooooo

Sides included small but powerful chilies, green chili, limes, and some basil that didn’t look that fresh. All of the sides also came on nice clean white square plates, and the water glasses were tilted, which caused one member to remark that they were “cool”.

The tilt makes it look faster

The tilt makes it look faster

Service was prompt and friendly, and one member even remarked that this place was “the best in North Burnaby,” which I’d definitely agree with.

“Best in North Burnaby!”

Here’s our review of the pho!

Regular Sm: $7.50 Lg: $8 Special: $8
Beef: fair portion with fresh beef balls
Noodles: al dente
Broth: light, and well-balanced
Presentation: 2 out of 4

Overall: 7.5 out of 10

Thai's Saigon Bistro on Urbanspoon

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I went to Bao Chau the other day because I was craving for some tasty spring rolls.  They claim to have the best spring rolls in town so I thought it would be the best place to satisfy my cravings.

Well, it was definitely indeed one of the best I’ve had! They are very, very generous with the stuffing and the skin is nice and crispy.

bao chau (4) bao chau (2)

sorry for the crappy quality of the pictures- forgot my camera so had to use the phone.  The pho at Bao Chau wasn’t as good as I remembered.  The broth was a bit bland and a little high on the MSG.

Do you think Bao Chau has the best spring rolls?  Vote!

Bao Chau Vietnamese on Urbanspoon

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le-petit-saigon-3le-petit-saigon-4

I remember trying out this place once almost 5 years ago.  At the time, the pho was very bland and had sooooooo much MSG, I vowed to never go there again.  Recently there has been a lot of positive reviews on Urbanspoon and dinehere- it turns out they had a change in ownership.  It was time to give it another try!

le-petit-saigon-10

We meet up for a late Sunday lunch and the place was pretty packed.  The servers had uniforms- shirts with the restaurants name.  We give extra points for that 😛  They were very pleasant but were so busy that the service was inattentive.  It didn’t help that we were in the corner table.

One thing we noticed is that they have nice dishes and utensils.  They had a pourable fish sauce dish and the soup spoon was nicknamed the ‘titanium’ spoon as it was very solid and heavy.  They are serious about their soups!!

le-petit-saigon-9le-petit-saigon-8

Review of the pho:

price: small for 5.75, large for 6.50

The portion was very good, good ratio.  8 thicker slices of beef in a small pho tai and the noodles were al dente.  The broth was described as ‘yummylicious’ but was a little bit greasy and MSG amount was detected as medium/high.  Overall, the pho was above average- we gave it a 8 and will be back in the future.  Though it’ll be hard to decide between going here or Bao Chau which is just a block away!

le-petit-saigon-6

Let’s hear your thoughts!

Le Petit Saigon on Urbanspoon

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